The Kiplingers in Stuart
The Stuart area has been our family’s beloved second home for more than six decades, and we strive to be as good citizens here as in our home communities of Washington, D.C. and suburban Maryland, contributing to the vitality of local institutions.
We felt very honored to be recognized in 2006 by the Martin County Board of Commissioners with a proclamation “commending the Kiplinger Family for contributions benefiting the public in Martin County,” and for having been “enthusiastic supporters of civic life in Martin County for over a half-century.”
Our family is passionate about history, so we supported Stuart Heritage’s restoration of the Stuart Feed Supply Store into a museum of local history. In the late 1980s, I encouraged Sandra Thurlow to research and write her fascinating history of Sewall’s Point, and we supported the project with a grant from our family foundation. (It was the first of Sandy’s series of definitive histories of Martin County towns that made her “The History Lady.”)
We believe that literacy is the foundation of effective citizenship, so our family foundation supports the adult and youth literacy tutoring programs of the Martin County library system. It’s my personal pleasure to address the annual fundraising luncheon of the Library Foundation, which bestows the Kiplinger Literacy Award on an outstanding volunteer.
Our foundation helped the Elliott Museum reach its fundraising goal for building its superb new home, and I serve on its Winter Council of advisers. And our family loves to attend shows at the Lyric Theatre.
W. M. Kiplinger
My grandfather, pioneering journalist W. M. Kiplinger (founder of The Kiplinger Letter in 1923 and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine in 1947), came to Stuart for the first time in 1952, convinced to come have a look by an old friend who told him, “Stuart is Florida for people who think they don’t like Florida.”
After a few days at the Sunrise Inn–a comfortably elegant 1920s resort on Old St. Lucie Boulevard, torn down in the 1970s–my grandfather went looking for a place to call his own. By the time he returned to Washington two weeks later, he had contracted to buy Bay Tree Lodge, a 20-acre estate on Sewall’s Point, built in 1909 and previously owned by the Baruch family of Wall Street fame and the Cheek family of Nashville, the founders of Maxwell House Coffee. For the past 65 years, our family and the employees and retirees of our publishing company have vacationed there with friends and relatives.
My grandfather believed in giving back to the people and places that meant the most to him—his employees, his home city of Washington, D.C., and his adopted community of Martin County.
Beginning in the early 1950s, he got involved in the civic life of Martin County, and he urged other winter residents to do the same. As a journalist who practiced clear writing and plain speaking, Kiplinger quickly bonded with Ernie Lyons, the legendary editor of The Stuart News. Lyons dedicated his 1969 compilation of columns, My Florida, to his friend “Kip,” who had died two years before.
My grandfather admired creative people of all sorts, and it wasn’t long before he also befriended A. E. “Bean” Backus, the great Ft. Pierce painter of Florida landscapes. Besides acquiring Backus paintings for his home in Maryland and Bay Tree Lodge, in 1958 Kiplinger commissioned his friend to do a huge painting of the St. Lucie River along Sewall’s Point, and he donated the canvas to the Martin County Library. It hangs today in the Blake Library on Monterey Road.
W.M. Kiplinger donated land on East Ocean Boulevard for the Women‘s Club of Stuart (1957) and the first public library building in Martin County (’56 and ’58). He donated land on Skyline Drive for the Jensen Beach Community Church (1960) and another parcel for the Jensen Beach Women’s Association (1968). And Kiplinger donated land in 1963 to a capital campaign for Martin Memorial Hospital (a tract off Monterey Road that it sold for the cash proceeds).
In the 1970s, when approached by the “Save Our Beaches” campaign, our family foundation agreed to sell some of its oceanfront land to become a public beach that was named after donor Virginia Forrest. And 30 years later, our family made available to the “Lands for You” program a valuable, unspoiled site on Kanner Highway fronting on the St. Lucie, which became the Kiplinger Nature Preserve, and also donated a peninsula in the river opposite the Preserve.
Stewards of the Land
Descended from German immigrant farmers in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Kiplinger family has always been attracted to beautiful, productive land, for our own homes and as an investment. My grandfather lived on 15 scenic acres in Bethesda, Md., just two miles from the D.C. line. Today I am the steward of the 400-acre farm in Maryland where my late brother and I grew up and where today we grow corn, wheat, soybeans, organic vegetables and grass-fed livestock. The farm is under conservation easements, keeping it open forever.
As patient, long-term investors, our family has bought land for a variety of important social purposes—growing food, the preservation of open space for community use, donation to institutions that need a new home, and the creation of attractive new communities providing people with homes and workplaces.
When the appropriate time comes to convert our land from one use to another, we work with local leaders to protect the most-natural land and create new neighborhoods that will enhance the quality of life and financial well-being of current residents and newcomers.
On Sewall’s Point, we created two lovely new neighborhoods—Hillcrest and Sewall’s Meadow—on land that had once been open acreage on original large estates (which typically spanned 10 acres from river to river). Our new neighborhoods were among the first in South Sewall’s Point to feature winding streets and cul-de-sacs that curved around huge specimen trees—strangler figs, live oaks, mangoes, ironwood and gumbo limbo.
As Stuart grew from a small town to a thriving small city in the 1950s through 1980s, open acreage that our family owned along Federal Highway eventually became the sites of various enterprises, including The Stuart News, the Monterey Triangle office center (SunTrust building and Monterey Medical Center), and Treasure Coast Square Mall in Jensen Beach. Acreage on Kanner Highway we owned for many years was developed by subsequent owners into the neighborhoods of Whitemarsh Reserve and South River.